On any 3-13 team, there are cuts to be made. Even with the Raiders already set to have over $50 million in available salary, there is still some dead weight that must be trimmed as well as a few players who could see their contracts receive a little tweaking.
He was brought in to be the Raiders starting quarterback, restructuring his contract to a 2-year, $13.5 million deal with $8 million guaranteed. He didn't start a single game for the team, throwing two interceptions, one was a pick 6 and two fumbles. The entirety of that $8 million was paid out for the 2014 season which means he can be cut free and clear which is exactly what will happen.
He was cut by the Steelers last off-season and quickly signed with the Raiders on a 2-year, $12 million deal. He had 3 solo tackles in four starts this season before being lost to injury - one of a string of injuries in recent years for the 30-year-old pass rusher. He carries no dead money should he be released. This looks like the end of the line for this one time Pro Bowl outside linebacker.
When he arrived in Oakland, the move was lauded. It was a homecoming for the former All Pro running back. He signed a 3-year, $7.5 million contract with no dead money should he be released. It was a happy homecoming for the Oakland native and Raiders fan, but this is where that story ends.
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Next season he will represent the highest cap hit on the roster of $9.7 million. This for a guy who has been lost to injury in the first two games of each of the past two seasons. In his absence, Charles Woodson moved to strong safety and played quite well. If Branch won't accept a paycut or a restructure, he could be released. Even for a team with the kind of money the Raiders have to spend, paying nearly $10 million for any player, let alone one for whom they have had to find a replacement each the past two seasons, is hard to swallow.
Roach was one of only a couple younger players the new regime signed to long term contracts when they didn't have a lot to spend. He suffered a concussion last preseason and never returned. That's highly concerning. Should they feel his return is a high risk, they could look to draft his replacement this April. If that happens it would be hard to justify a $3.7 million cap hit for a backup. The drawback is he has a fairly significant $1.6 million cap hit in dead money should he be released.
This longtime Raider signed a 5-year extension a couple years ago. That contract was backloaded and rises each season. This season he represents a cap hit of $3.6 million which, after the three players up top are released, will be the 8th highest paid player on the team. His 2014 season he attempted the fewest field goals of his career (22) and on at least two occasions the team opted not to send him out to attempt field goals that are considered well within his range. He was visibly angry about those decisions as well. They could let it ride and deal with his contract next off-season when it rises again to the fourth biggest cap hit on the team or they could cut bait now with just about $1 million in dead money left behind.
He is beloved by his teammates and the media (I concur). He was also fairly productive this season. But he's 33-years-old and this marriage was never meant to last. He was signed to a 2-year, $9 million contract last off-season with all guaranteed money up front and no dead money should he be cut this off-season. He represents $4 million against the cap this year and If the team signs a big free agent at his position or chooses a 3-tech DT high in the draft, it's possible they let Smith go. His contract was structured that way for such a situation.